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Politics updates: Congress members may have been exposed to COVID-19 while in lockdown during Capitol riot

  • January 10, 2021

White House lowers flag for Capitol officer fatally injured in riot

The White House lowered its flags to half-staff Sunday, apparently to honor Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained while responding to Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol by an angry mob. 

Since Sicknick’s death Thursday night, President Donald Trump has been criticized for not contacting the fallen officer’s family or publicly acknowledging his death.

Vice President Mike Pence and President-elect Joe Biden both expressed sympathy to Sicknick’s family on Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the U.S. Capitol flags lowered on Friday.

Federal and local police continue to investigate Sicknick’s death as a homicide.

The White House has yet to release a statement on the matter.

– Devon Link

US Capitol Police officer, 51, dies; cause not released

A U.S. Capitol Police officer died while off duty on Saturday, according to a statement released by the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting federal property in Washington.

Howard Liebengood, 51, had been with the department since 2005 and was assigned to the Senate Division, police said. The department’s statement did not say the cause of Liebengood’s death.

 According to the Capitol Police union, Liebengood was “among the officers who responded to the rioting at the U.S. Capitol” on Wednesday. At least one police officer was killed amid the riot; four other people also died. Dozens of other officers were injured in the attack.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues,” the department said in its statement. “We ask that his family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this profoundly difficult time.”

– Matthew Brown

Physician urges Congress members may have been exposed to COVID in Capitol riot

Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician for Congress, urged all elected officials and their staff to observe public health measures and get tested for the coronavirus after potentially being exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 while the Capitol was locked down during an armed incursion by pro-Trump rioters.

During the attack, “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” Monahan noted in an email.

“The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others. During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection,” the physician wrote.

At least six Republican members of Congress refused to wear masks while in lockdown, even after Democratic colleagues pleaded with them. In one video, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., said “I’m not trying to get political here,” while declining a mask offered by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.

“Please continue your usual daily coronavirus risk reduction measures (daily symptom inventory checklist, mask wear, and social distancing). Additionally, individuals should obtain an RT-PCR coronavirus test next week as a precaution,” Monahan advised.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to aggressively spread across the United States. The nation has reported over 370,000 deaths and more than 22 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

– Matthew Brown

Poll: Majority wants Trump removed from office before inauguration 

A majority of Americans now believe President Donald Trump should be removed from office before his term ends on Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in.

A new poll published Sunday by ABC News/Ipsos found that 56% of those surveyed want Trump to be removed before Inauguration Day. A higher figure – 67% – blame the commander-in-chief for the riots in Washington this week that left 5 people dead after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building, overpowering police and ransacking the complex.

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